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Why is my car accident lawyer asking me about Medicare?

November 28, 2011 by Steven M. Gursten

Watch out: Medicare should not be billed for car accidents in Michigan

If you’ve been injured in a car accident, your medical doctors should be billing your No-Fault auto insurance. But many doctors – and some accident lawyers – don’t understand this and mistakenly bill Medicare. This is very problematic.

Here’s the rub: When Medicare pays for car accident-related medical treatment, it will be entitled to reimbursement for those payments.

If you’re the victim of a car accident and you’re in pain and need medical help, Medicare is probably the last thing on your mind. But you must inform your Michigan accident lawyer that you have Medicare… because ignoring Medicare can have serious consequences.

How does Medicare affect my car accident lawsuit?

Under federal law, Medicare is considered a secondary payer for treatment that is covered by liability or auto insurance. This means that Medicare only pays for your medical treatment only after you have exhausted your No-Fault insurance.

It also means that even when Medicare does pay, the payments are conditional, meaning the payment must be repaid to Medicare when a settlement, judgment, award or other payment is secured.

The common scenario I see as an accident lawyer in Michigan is when Medicare pays my injured client’s medical bills after an auto insurer terminates my client’s benefits. With auto insurance refusing to pay my client’s medical bills, my client’s doctors submit their bills to Medicare, and Medicare will pay for those bills as a “secondary” payer. When a settlement in my client’s auto accident lawsuit is reached, part of the settlement proceeds must be used to repay Medicare for the conditional payments made.

What happens if I ignore Medicare?

If you have Medicare and you don’t alert your accident lawyer, the consequences are very serious. If your lawyer doesn’t know you are covered under Medicare, she cannot notify Medicare of its rights. Under federal law, a Medicare beneficiary is responsible for notifying Medicare of her case. The government does not take this requirement lightly – it imposes penalties of $1,000 PER DAY for insurers who fail to notify them of potential claims.

Medicare has a direct right of recovery from YOU, the beneficiary, for conditional payments made. That means Medicare can pursue this recovery from your settlement proceeds from your auto accident case.

Am I a Medicare beneficiary?

Not sure if you are a Medicare beneficiary? Medicare covers nearly 40 million Americans who are age 65 and older, some disabled people under 65, and people of all ages with End-Stage Renal Disease (permanent kidney failure treated with dialysis or a transplant).

Important steps to take if you are a car accident victim covered by Medicare

If you are a car accident victim who is covered by Medicare, please take the following steps:

1. Notify your lawyer immediately and give her a copy of your Medicare card.

2. Log on to Mymedicare.gov to set up an online account where you can easily access your Medicare payment information.

3. Immediately alert your lawyer if you discover Medicare has paid for your auto accident-related medical treatment.

4. Provide your Michigan accident lawyer with copies of any correspondence you receive from Medicare.

5. If you have questions about Medicare and your car accident or truck accident, call Michigan Auto Law at (800) 777-0028 for free advice.

Communicating quickly with your Michigan accident lawyer about your Medicare plan can help your lawyer protect Medicare’s interests and minimize the impact on your auto accident lawsuit.

– This blog was written by Alison F. Tomak.

Related information:

Getting the best medical care after a car accident in Michigan

Reporting car accident injuries in a timely manner

10 things to know if you’ve been injured in a Michigan car accident

Michigan Auto Law is the largest law firm exclusively handling car accident, truck accident and motorcycle accident cases throughout the entire state. We have offices in Farmington Hills, Detroit, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and Sterling Heights to better serve you. Call (800) 777-0028 to speak with a Michigan accident lawyer today.

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